1. When we know about the future we normally use the present tense.

  • We use the present simple for something scheduled or arranged:

We have a lesson next Monday.
The train arrives at 6.30 in the morning.
The holidays start next week.
It is my birthday tomorrow.

  • We can use the present continuous for plans or arrangements:

I’m playing football tomorrow.
They are coming to see us tomorrow.
We’re having a party at Christmas.

2. We use will to talk about the future:

  • When we make predictions:

It will be a nice day tomorrow.
I think Brazil will win the World Cup.
I’m sure you will enjoy the film.

  • To mean want to or be willing to:

I hope you will come to my party.
George says he will help us.

  • To make offers and promises:

I'll see you tomorrow.
We'll send you an email.

  • To talk about offers and promises:

Tim will be at the meeting.
Mary will help with the cooking.

3. We use (be) going to:

  • To talk about plans and intentions:

I’m going to drive to work today.
They are going to move to Manchester.

  • When we can see that something is likely to happen:

Be careful! You are going to fall.
Look at those black clouds. I think it’s going to rain.


4. We often use verbs like would like, plan, want, mean, hope, expect to talk about the future:

What are you going to do next year? I’d like to go to University.
We plan to go to France for our holidays.
George wants to buy a new car.

5. We use modals may, might, and could when we are not sure about the future:

I might stay at home tonight, or I might go to the cinema.
We could see Mary at the meeting. She sometimes goes.

6. We can use should if we think something is likely to happen:

We should be home in time for tea.
The game should be over by eight o’clock.

7. Clauses with time words:

In clauses with time words like when, after, and until we often use a present tense form to talk about the future:

I’ll come home when I finish work.
You must wait here until your father comes.
They are coming after they have had dinner.

8. Clauses with if:

In clauses with if we often use a present tense form to talk about the future:

We won’t be able to go out if it rains.
If Barcelona win tomorrow they will be champions.

WARNING: We do not normally use will in clauses with if or with time words:

I’ll come home when I will finish work.
We won’t be able to go out if it will rain rains.

But we can use will if it means a promise or offer:

I will be very happy if you will come to my party.
We should finish the job early if George will help us.

9. We can use the future continuous instead of the present continuous or going to for emphasis when we are talking about plans, arrangements and intentions:

They’ll be coming to see us next week.
I will be driving to work tomorrow.

 

 

Exercise

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Comments

Good afternoon. I would like to know what is the best choice in this sentence since I don't really get it. For example, I'm pretty sure that the building is being/is going to be/ will be knocked down next week.
Indeed, if this is speaker's opinion, I should go for " will be", shouldn't I?

Thanks

Hello again Sol7,

That really depends on how you see the action. If you know that there are plans for the building to come down next week (for example, you know the person responsible for its demolition and they've told you), then the present continuous is the most likely form. If you know there is a plan to knock it down, but nothing more specific than that, 'going to' is the most likely form. 'will' can be used in different ways - here, for example, it could be used to make a prediction.

I hope that helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Mr. Kirk,
What is the difference between WILL & WILL BE ABLE TO,?
Trump will win the election.
Trump will be able to win the election.

Hello dlis,

In this context, 'will' is making a prediction, though it can also be used in other ways - see our will and would page for more on this.

'will' and 'can' are both modal verbs. One of the rules about using modal verbs is that you can't use two together, e.g. you can't say 'will can' to make a prediction about ability. Instead of 'will can', we say 'will be able to', which is the case here.

The second sentence emphasises Trump's ability to win, but in the end, both sentences have almost the same meaning and both could be used in many different contexts.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I just came across this sentence and am confused.

"It will be necessary to double the production quota by next year to keep up with the market demand."

Do you have to use the future tense "will"?
If you replace "will be" with a present tense "is", do those two mean the same or not?

Hello sonicsyy,

That's correct - you could use the present simple form 'is' here and it would mean much the same thing. 'will' shows that the speaker sees the increased quota as something in the future, whereas 'is' is a more general statement of fact. But for many purposes, the two forms mean the same thing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

The page states:
"We use the present simple for something...arranged"
As well as:
"We use the present continuous for...arrangements"
Really? What is the difference between "something arranged" and "an arrangement"?
If I'm going to watch a movie with my friends that has been arranged for 8pm by the cinema, surely the film starts at 8pm. Yes, it is starting at 8pm, I remember the time. And yes, don't be late, because the film will be starting at 8pm too. Trust me, it will start at 8pm and we'll walk in without you.
What am I missing here? If it's a case of "who/when" the arrangement was made, the film has been arranged to show at that time by the cinema, and I have arranged to view that show either within my self or with my friends.
Using the word "arranged" in both descriptions is not helpful, and so the question "an arranged future use what tense" does not point to any one answer.

Hello DavidKasper,

I can see that using the words 'something arranged' and 'an arrangement' to talk about both can be confusing - thanks for pointing this out. I hope my explanation here will clarify the issue for you.

The difference here is the difference between 1) an event that is seen as occurring on a regular schedule (e.g. a film, a flight), for which the present simple is generally used, and 2) a plan that has been already made concrete in some way, for which the present continuous is generally used. Note that you could correctly use both forms to talk about the same event - the difference between them is a difference in how you see the event.

For example, you could say both A) 'I work tomorrow' and B) 'I'm working tomorrow'. A) would make sense in a situation where you're thinking of the event as something normal because it's scheduled - imagine you're explaining to someone why you can't meet them on a specific Saturday because you work on Saturdays. In this context, A) is the sentence that would communicate this (and not B). In contrast, imagine that your friend wants to meet with you on Saturday and normally you don't work on Saturdays but you do need to work on the Saturday your friend wants to meet. In this context, B) would be the correct option (and not A) because it's not on a regular schedule.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

What would be the difference between "We should finish the job early if George will help us" and "We should finish the job early if George help us" ?? I find both the same. Thanks!

Hello jj_5445,

In first conditional sentences, the verb 'will' is not generally used in the 'if' clause. It is often used in the other clause, but it's also possible to use other forms there (such as 'should', as in your sentence).

Your first sentence is not correct for this reason. The second sentence is almost possible – 'help' should be changed to the present simple form 'helps' (since 'George' is third person singular): 'We should finish early if George helps us'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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